The “Bay Area” is the area around San Francisco Bay, and includes picturesque places such as San Francisco itself, to across the bay north and east. It’s a mixture of urban sprawl and older neighborhoods, rich and poor. I’ve spent time there off and on, and it is always a pleasure. It’s very different than SoCal, let me tell you!
Direct watercolor is being done here – and proportions are a bear! It takes time and practice to be able to render things in the correct relationship to each other. I never learned the “pencil comparison” method – the one where you see the artist hold up his pencil toward the subject matter and then draw on the paper, and then repeat the process. Given how disproportionate many of my direct watercolors are, I think it will be something to master this summer in my spare time.
Friday was a busy, busy painting day! Quick sketch in the morning, class in the afternoon. More last night. And this morning I did this using only a flat brush, learning about its characteristics and such. I even got into using it really, really dry, which I had forgotten about. And the side – the edge of the flat – to make little dabs, such as in the pink flowers. It was great for wood texture, and fun for the sky. This was done without a preliminary sketch nor lines drawn on the paper.
Another “direct watercolor” from a photo I took sometime ago when up along the bluffs in Carpinteria, CA. This one might be worth repeating just because there are some areas I really like about it, but the rocks to the left of the cliff are rather dismal. The topmost rock was really a boat on the horizon! I painted the boat first, and then it just got bigger and bigger, to the point I morphed it into a dreary rock. Those rocks need work, as does the color gradation of the sand on the beach. I like a lot of the colors, but overall the sparkle is missing from the photo. If at first you don’t succeed . . . ya know.
I saw some climbing roses against a bright white wall, dancing with the wind. The play of light and dark, flickering shadows, and the swaying of the roses in the wind – tried to catch it in this morning’s sketch. No lines, direct watercolor.
I always have loved vistas of wildflowers, and the red poppies seen in so many French paintings always seem wonderful to me. Red like that is hard to find (I think) in the natural world. Painting it is even harder. I ended up using mostly Cadmium Red Orange.
This is another direct watercolor from this morning, but because of the multiple layers of washes, I had to let it dry in between. I went about getting ready for work between layers. At first, I just did a sky and put in colors of grasses and poppies – but they all bled together, so the second attempt – the one above – is the final version. If you look at the pictures below – click on them to see them in sequence – you can see what I did. I scanned each wash layer before doing the next.
Sk with white for grasses and flowers
Base wash with white space for poppies
Poppies on dried washes
Another focus on direct watercolor – no lines, no pencil. Here, my main focus was to draw straight lines with a brush, as well as consider how not to get everything bleeding into each section. I tried to do one area at a time – say, one building part – and then move on to one adjacent to it, working carefully to make each area separate but connected. Sounds like a lot of hooey when I read it, but that’s best description I can give right now! I’m running late to work.
From a photo I took not too long ago – a bit of the local botanical gardens. There is a path in there somewhere, but it got lost! Direct watercolor is not easy to do.
Direct watercolor, paint what’s in front of me, no lines. Those were my morning thoughts. What is always in front of me in the morning is my messy desk, full of different debris, depending on the day and whether or not I’ve done any tidying. As I pondered, oh so profoundly, I looked at the cell phone on my desk and really liked the reflections from my monitors . . . and here is today’s subject.
I worked to think more consciously and conscientiously about what I was doing. First, the outline of the phone, on my rather ochre-colored desk, then the darks of the phone itself, followed by reflections and shadows. I tried to be selective of where to touch different colors for bleeds. Finally, I went back in and did some shadows and contrasts to make a bit stronger image. In between, I worked carefully to avoid blooms and hard edges from backwash.
Instead of just sketching in the morning, like a flower or something, I thought about just painting things. The most prominent and important thing on my desk at 6 a.m. is my coffee cup! This is one of my favorites, too, even though it is quite chipped and so on. I’ll keep it until it dies. Now it is immortalized in a “direct watercolor” – no lines – and in a rather disproportionate manner, but here you go.
Today, Marc Taro Homes announced a 30-day direct painting challenge, and started a Facebook group dedicated to it. I’ve also been reviewing the work of an artist I admire, and who paints everything, from weird objects to seascapes to people. It made me think about watercolor painting in general. It becomes something of a sacred cow – so sacred you never experience it! So, just do it and do it and do it. Morning sketches are helpful, and so will the days of direct painting.
Outside my studio window is a small redbud tree. The leaves are heart-shaped and vary in color from pale green-yellow to a rusty red, depending on the way the light hits. This is my homage to starting direct watercoloring. I didn’t catch the transparency of the leaves this morning, but I did paint. Maybe I will paint it again tomorrow morning.